Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Resolved: To Be a Better Ancestor!

As genealogists and family historians, we appreciate ALL our ancestors. But nothing makes us happier than ancestors who left records of their lives—photographs, letters, diaries—so that we can know them in a personal way that is not possible from other records.

Think about a hundred years from now...it’s 2111...what artifacts will your descendants have from which to know you?

For Ancestor Appreciation Day, I’m making a resolution to be a better ancestor! Next month is Family History Month, and each week I’ll be working on, and sharing with you, what I’m doing to create and preserve a legacy for my descendants.

 I hope you’ll join me on the journey!

Image: africa / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Workday Wednesday - The United States Postal Service

1847 5-cent stamp depicting Benjamin Franklin, First U.S. Postmaster General,
appointed by the Continental Congress on 26 Sept 1789.
Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

Have you checked out NARA Microfilm Publication M841 Record of Appointments of Postmasters, 1832-September 30, 1971 to see if any of your ancestors served as postmaster?

Jean Wilcox Hibben of Circlemending has written an excellent series of blog posts exploring these records and describing the types of information that can be found. Click here for the first post which provides an overview of the record group, where to find the microfilms, etc.

I have discovered two ancestors who served as postmasters:
  • My great-grandfather Ambrose B. Martindale was appointed postmaster at Carmona, Polk County, Texas, on 16 February 1894. [Source: Jim Wheat, Postmasters & Post Offices of Polk County, Texas, 1847-1930 (http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~txpost/polk.html : accessed 28 May 2010), Ambrose B. Martindale, 16 Feb 1894.]
  • My 2nd great-granduncle Arad W. Franklin was appointed postmaster at Ostrander, Delaware County, Ohio, on 13 April 1893. [Source: "Postmasters 1842-2003," Delaware County, Ohio, Ostrander and Scioto Township History (http://www.ostscioto.com/Post%20Office.htm : accessed 20 Sept 2011), Arad W. Franklin, 13 April 1893.]
More recently, my uncle, William H. Yawman, worked for the post office (not sure in what capacity) and my sister is a postal clerk in Denton, Texas.

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - MOMS

If you're looking for marriages in Minnesota, MOMS is your one-stop shop!

The Minnesota Online Marriage System is designed to provide the general public with a tool to search for official marriage records and then direct the searcher to the county that holds the marriage document. All 87 counties participate in the project. A list of dates covered by county is available.

Old Dakota County, Minnesota, Courthouse, now
Hastings City Hall
Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

Thursday, September 15, 2011

And the Winner is.......


For the Workday Wednesday Challenge posted last week, Kristin wrote about the occupations of her paternal great-grandfather, Lewis Cleage.

For participating in the challenge, honorable mention goes to these bloggers:

Sierra at Up In The Tree

Take a few minutes to read these posts about what they learned from the census about their ancestors' livelihoods!

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A New FREE Educational Opportunity - The US-REC Study Group

Over the last several weeks, you may have seen references to a new educational opportunity available for FREE! Thanks to Valerie Brown Elkins of Family Cherished and Tonia Kendrick of Tonia's Roots, we now have the US-REC Study Group, focusing on American records.

With a concept similar to the successful ProGen Study Group, and using Facebook as the platform for discussion among the group members, it promises to be an outstanding way to learn more about the records that are available for U.S. research. The texts for the course are The Researcher's Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood and The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy by Loretta D.  Szucs and Sandra H. Luebking.

Designed for intermediate-level genealogists, the group will study two chapters each month and have a related practical assignment. The program will last approximately 15 months.

The US-REC Study Group still has a few spaces left in this first group of participants, but if you are interested, send me an email and I'll ask for information to be sent!

I'm looking forward to participating in this group and I hope you'll join me!

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

Friday, September 9, 2011

My 99 Genealogy Things Meme

Okay, I’m jumping on this bandwagon. I have read several posts on the 99 Things Meme, some general and some related to genealogy, so I’m not sure whose list I’m using here. I’ve added extra information (in blue) because I think this is a great way to get to know other genealogists! Come on, join the fun in your own post!

The list is annotated in the following manner:
Things I’ve already done: bold face type
Things I’d like to do: italicize
Things I haven’t done, don’t care to, or just hasn’t come up yet: plain type

  1. Belong to a genealogical society. National Genealogical Society, Southern California Genealogical Society, Utah Genealogical Association, New England Historic Genealogical Society, Association of Professional Genealogists
  2. Researched records onsite at a court house. In Los Angeles County, CA, Nacogdoches County and Sherman County in TX.
  3. Transcribed records. And have a lot more to transcribe!
  4. Uploaded tombstone pictures to Find-A-Grave. And created 2 virtual cemeteries. Also posted photos on 1BillionGraves.
  5. Documented ancestors for four generations (self, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents). Great-grandparent surnames: SPURLOCK, OWENS, MARTINDALE, FORSHEE, YAWMAN, BURTON, SNIDER, FRANKLIN.
  6. Joined Facebook. Yep, won’t you be my friend? facebook.com/denise.spurlock
  7. Cleaned up a run-down cemetery.
  8. Joined the GeneaBloggers Group.
  9. Attended a genealogy conference. NGS (2010, 2011); SCGS Jamboree (2010, 2011)
  10. Lectured at a genealogy conference.
  11. Spoke on a genealogy topic at a local genealogy society. One so far, have three more scheduled.
  12. Been the editor of a genealogy society newsletter. Yes, if you count the newsletter for the Southern California Chapter of APG.
  13. Contributed to a genealogy society publication.
  14. Served on the board or as an officer of a genealogy society. Same as 12.
  15. Got lost on the way to a cemetery. My sister is not always the best navigator!
  16. Talked to dead ancestors.
  17. Researched outside the state in which I live. Yes, in Louisiana and Texas.
  18. Knocked on the door of an ancestral home and visited with the current occupants.
  19. Cold called a distant relative.
  20. Posted messages on a surname message board. Many times.
  21. Uploaded a gedcom file to the internet. To WorldConnect, Ancestry, WikiTree.
  22. Googled my name. I have a Google alert set up!
  23. Performed a random act of genealogical kindness.
  24. Researched a non-related family, just for the fun of it.
  25. Have been paid to do genealogical research. Yes.
  26. Earn a living (majority of income) from genealogical research. Trying!
  27. Wrote a letter (or email) to a previously unknown relative. Wasn’t sure they were related until after writing to them.
  28. Contributed to one of the genealogy carnivals.
  29. Responded to messages on a message board. Many times.
  30. Was injured while on a genealogy excursion. Slipped and fell in a cemetery; only my pride was injured!
  31. Participated in a genealogy meme. Regularly.
  32. Created family history gift items (calendars, cookbooks, etc.).
  33. Performed a record lookup.
  34. Took a genealogy seminar cruise. Would be a lovely vacation!
  35. Am convinced that a relative must have arrived here from outer space. The southern U.S. seems to be a favorite landing area for UFOs.
  36. Found a disturbing family secret. Umm, sort of.
  37. Told others about a disturbing family secret. Of course!
  38. Combined genealogy with crafts (family picture quilt, scrapbooking).
  39. Think genealogy is a passion not a hobby. My name is Denise, and I’m a geneaholic....
  40. Assisted finding next of kin for a deceased person (Unclaimed Persons). An activity definitely worthy of one’s time.
  41. Taught someone else how to find their roots.
  42. Lost valuable genealogy data due to a computer crash or hard drive failure. Let’s not talk it...
  43. Been overwhelmed by available genealogy technology.
  44. Know a cousin of the 4th degree or higher. If you count someone you’ve only met online.
  45. Disproved a family myth through research.
  46. Got a family member to let you copy photos. Need to work on some others!
  47. Used a digital camera to “copy” photos or records. But now I have a FlipPal Mobile Scanner!
  48. Translated a record from a foreign language. Using Google Translate.
  49. Found an immigrant ancestor’s passenger arrival record. My son’s Italian great-grandfather.
  50. Looked at census records on microfilm, not on the computer. Line by line.
  51. Used microfiche.
  52. Visited the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. Several times; visiting again in October.
  53. Visited more than one LDS Family History Center. Two: LA and Upland, CA.
  54. Visited a church or place of worship of one of your ancestors.
  55. Taught a class in genealogy.
  56. Traced ancestors back to the 18th Century.
  57. Traced ancestors back to the 17th Century.
  58. Traced ancestors back to the 16th Century.
  59. Can name all of your great-great-grandparents. Yes, add the following surnames to 5. above: VICKERS, HAMMONTREE, EATON, PARKER, SITTERLY, PARSONS, CALDWELL, CARY.
  60. Found an ancestor’s Social Security application. Have SS-5s for parents.
  61. Know how to determine a soundex code without the help of a computer.  
  62. Used Steve Morse’s One-Step searches. Occasionally.
  63. Own a copy of Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills. Can’t cite without it!
  64. Helped someone find an ancestor using records you had never used for your own research.
  65. Visited the main National Archives building in Washington, DC.
  66. Visited the Library of Congress. I still have my reader card from a visit in the 1990s!
  67. Have an ancestor who came over on the Mayflower. James Chilton.
  68. Have an ancestor who fought in the Civil War. Several, on both sides.
  69. Taken a photograph of an ancestor’s tombstone. Yep!
  70. Became a member of the Association of Graveyard Rabbits.
  71. Can read a church record in Latin.
  72. Have an ancestor who changed their name.
  73. Joined a Rootsweb mailing list. Two or three.
  74. Created a family website.
  75. Have more than one "genealogy" blog. Three!
  76. Was overwhelmed by the amount of family information received from someone.
  77. Have broken through at least one brick wall.
  78. Visited the DAR Library in Washington D.C.
  79. Borrowed microfilm from the Family History Library through a local Family History Center. But hate the wait.
  80. Have done indexing for Family Search Indexing or another genealogy project. Family Search and Ancestry.
  81. Visited the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
  82. Had an amazing serendipitous find of the "Psychic Roots" variety.
  83. Have an ancestor who was a Patriot in the American Revolutionary War. Several.
  84. Have an ancestor who was a Loyalist in the American Revolutionary War.
  85. Have both Patriot & Loyalist ancestors.
  86. Have used Border Crossing records to locate an ancestor. But not often....
  87. Use maps in my genealogy research. I love maps!
  88. Have a convict ancestor who was transported from the UK.
  89. Found a bigamist amongst the ancestors. Maybe, not sure yet!
  90. Visited the National Archives in Kew.
  91. Visited St. Catherine's House in London to find family records.
  92. Found a cousin in Australia (or other foreign country).
  93. Consistently cite my sources. Yes.
  94. Visited a foreign country (i.e. one I don't live in) in search of ancestors.
  95. Can locate any document in my research files within a few minutes. In my dreams..
  96. Have an ancestor who was married four times (or more).
  97. Made a rubbing of an ancestors gravestone.
  98. Organized a family reunion.
  99. Published a family history book (on one of my families). Yes, but it needs revision.

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Workday Wednesday Challenge: Occupations in Census Records

Yesterday was my lucky day! I was one of the five GeneaBloggers who won a one-year Archives.com  subscription in Geneabloggers' Archives.com US Federal Census Contest. As explained in Workday Wednesday - Labor Day Edition - Ancestors' Occupations and the Census, I already have a subscription so I am "re-gifting" it by offering it as the prize for this Workday Wednesday Challenge.

Keeping in the spirit of my entry post, here is the challenge:

1. Select an ancestor whom you have found in at least three censuses.
2. Review the occupational information found on each census and write a blog post (or a comment to this post) giving at least the following information:
  • Name of the ancestor and your relationship
  • The occupation recorded in each census year
  • Other information you find such as the industry in which the ancestor worked, whether they were unemployed, etc.
  • Do you know of other occupations your ancestors engaged in, but are not reflected in census records?
3. If you are writing a post on your own blog, paste a link in the comments below.
4. Deadline for entries is midnight (Pacific time) Wednesday, 14 September 2011; winner will be selected at random from all entries and announced on Thursday, 15 September.

Here's mine as an example:

Ambrose B. (A.B.) Martindale, my paternal great-grandfather (1844-1918)

  • 1880 - Works in saw mill - Jackson Twp., Carter Co., Missouri 
  • 1900 - Saw mill owner - Nacogdoches Co., TX
  • 1910 - Operator, saw mill - Nacogdoches Co., TX - census indicates he is an employer

In 1894 Ambrose was appointed the first postmaster in Carmona, Polk Co., TX; at the time I believe he was also managing a saw mill.

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tuesday's Tip - Texas Business Charters

A few months ago, I found a newspaper article stating that the Spurlock-Martindale Company had received a charter from the State of Texas in March 1911. The directors of the company were J. J. Spurlock (my grandfather), A. B. Martindale (my great-grandfather), and Gertrude Fry (whom I later discovered worked as a sales clerk in a jewelry store).

Since I am planning to be in the Austin area later this year, I was researching the holdings of the Texas State Library and Archives to see what I might find there regarding business charters. Not having much luck and suspecting this might refer to incorporation of a business, I checked out the Texas Secretary of State’s website and VOILA! The Texas Secretary of State offers an online system for searching business organization documents called SOSDirect. For $1.00 per search, you can search business organization filings by entity name, name of person listed as a registered agent, officer or director of a corporation. Plain copies of documents cost 10 cents per page for 50 pages or less; if the document is over 50 pages, the charge is 15 cents per page.

I visited the site last Tuesday evening, registered as a temporary user, and did a couple of searches. I found that the charter application for the Spurlock-Martindale Company was available and I ordered a copy. On Thursday morning, I received an email that my documents were ready and I downloaded the file. Total cost for the searches I had done and the copies was a whopping $4.52!

I couldn’t find any information on the website about the years for which documents are available, but I know it goes back at least to 1911!

If you know that your ancestor obtained a business charter in Texas, you might want to check it out!

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research

Monday, September 5, 2011

Workday Wednesday - Labor Day Edition - Ancestors' Occupations and the Census

The U.S. federal censuses are a key source of information regarding many aspects of our ancestors' lives, including how they provided for themselves and their families. While earlier census records note only the occupation, later censuses provide more information about our ancestors' employment, including whether they worked for themselves or someone else or if they were unemployed at the time the census was taken.

In the earlier censuses, it sometimes seems that all our ancestors were farmers, but there are other occupations listed: cobblers, tailors, milliners, blacksmiths, jewelers, watchmakers, and the list goes on. Enumerators may have even commented on someone's level of competence at a particular occupation! Although difficult to read, this clip from the 1880 census for the household of Azell Martindale of Moore County, North Carolina, shows Azell is a farmer, his wife Polly keeps house, and his 97-year-old mother Judah "Cooks & cooks well!":

1880 U.S. census, population schedule, Ritter Township, Moore County, North Carolina,
enumeration district (ED) 137, p. 30B (penned), dwelling 280, family 290,
household of Azell Martindale; digital images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 15 Nov 2010);
citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T9, roll 973
The 1930 census provides much more information. Forest Snyder (Snider), my first cousin once removed, was a showman working for a show company! His brother Ellison was a varnisher in a chair factory. Here is a clip from the 1930 federal census showing their household on the bottom two lines:

1930 U.S. census, population schedule, Marysville, Union, Ohio,
enumeration district (ED) 15, p. 7B, dwelling 193, family 197,
household of Forest Snyder; digital images, Ancestry (www.ancestry.com : accessed 9 Feb 2010);
citing National Archives and Records Administration microfilm T626, roll 1886.
Looking to the right on Forest's entry to the first column under the Employment, we see that Forest did not work on the last working day prior to the census enumerator's visit, but the entry for Ellison shows that he did work that day. I imagine then, as now, an entertainer did not work as regularly as others in more traditional occupations.

The 1940 U.S. census will be released to the public on April 2, 2012. One controversial question enumerators asked that year: For the year ended December 31, 1939, Amount of money, wages or salary received (including commissions). The answers to this question will help genealogists determine how well, or poorly, their ancestors were doing financially at the end of the Great Depression. It will be interesting to see who earned more in 1939, Forest the showman or Ellison the chair varnisher!

In researching census records, it is important to look at the information in EVERY column. Doing so will give you the details that will bring your ancestor to life, so to speak!

On September 2, 2011, GeneaBloggers announced the Archives.com US Federal Census Contest with five one-year subscriptions to Archives.com as prizes. This post is being entered in that contest. Because I have a subscription already, if I am one of the lucky five winners, I will use it as a prize for a contest on this blog. Archives.com is one of several subscription websites that include online census databases and images as well as other collections of interest to genealogists.

© 2011 Denise Spurlock, Ancestral Trees Research